Friday, 13 August 2010

Glenda Bannington-Blythe and the Black Bean Soup (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

(If you missed what happened at The Christmas Party, catch up by clicking here.)

Roger wasn’t really looking forward to the dinner with Gus Hetherington and his tedious, braying wife, but Glenda had been insistent.

We haven’t had them over for months darling’ she had said, ‘he is your boss after all!
‘Well, not really my boss' scowled Roger, 'just slightly senior to me, that’s all. Oh all right then. Get Cook to do something American, his dreadful wife is from somewhere down south. But for God’s sake not a steak, apparently she’s vege-bloody-tarian.’ Roger had almost gagged at the word.


The meal was going well. Roger noted that Glenda was on fine form, flirting appropriately with Gus and looking very interested in what his wife, Cristal, had to say. Roger was relieved at the change in Glenda. After the Christmas party débâcle, he had endured months of marital silence. Even though he’d fired Chandra immediately and sworn never to see her again, Glenda had remained unconvinced. Still, she seemed to have forgotten all about it this evening.

Rosa entered the dining room bearing a large silver tureen. She placed it carefully in the middle of the table and removed the lid with a flourish.

‘Eees blacka bean soupa wheeze rai-si!’ she announced triumphantly.

Pardon?’ asked Glenda ‘I thought Cook was preparing Black Bean Soup with rice.’

Rosa beamed ‘¡Si! Is what I say! Blacka Bean Soupa Wheeze Rai-si!’

Before Glenda could reply, Cristal squealed with delight making everyone jump.

Oh Rose-a, that is divine! How’d’y’all know that’s my favourite?’

Rosa looked from Cristal to Glenda and back again, trying to comprehend. Her brain was not really equipped to deal with long sentences in English, let alone English spoken with a southern American lilt.

It’s all right Rosa’ said Glenda, ‘Mrs Hetherington is very pleased with the soup.’

Rosa nodded and scurried from the room.

They were just starting their soup when Rosa reappeared, looking nervous.

Meester, you m-must please to come t-to Drawing Room’ she stammered. Roger was irritated, ‘Rosa, don’t be ridiculous! We have company.’

Rosa squirmed and looked at Glenda pleadingly. Glenda gave an almost imperceptible nod. ‘I sorry, but Mees Chandra is in there.’

Glenda had to stifle a laugh as she watched Roger struggle to maintain composure in front of the Hetheringtons, who had also been at the Christmas party. He excused himself from the room and could be heard running down the hall. Glenda counted to 20 and excused herself as well, leaving the Hetheringtons to their black bean soup.


Roger arrived at the Drawing Room, panting. He almost had a coronary on the spot when he saw Chandra sitting naked on the Chesterfield chair.

What the bloody hell do you think you are doing?’ he puffed. Chandra stood up, tall and slender, clad only in her Louboutins. His favourite Louboutins, he remembered, with a slight stirring of passion.

Chandra pouted and walked slowly towards him. ‘Come on’ she purred ‘once more for old times’ sake.’ Before Roger really knew what was happening Chandra was undressing him whilst leading him towards the chair. She pushed him down roughly and pulled his arms behind the back of the chair. He heard a click as a pair of handcuffs tightened around his wrist. ‘Chandra!’ panted Roger, ‘I can’t, the Hetheringtons are here!’ He tried to get up, but his arms were wedged firmly behind the chair. ‘It’s ok honey’ Chandra whispered in his ear, ‘I don’t really want to either’ and she bit him hard on the ear lobe.

Roger’s squeal masked the sound of Glenda entering the room. She retched slightly at the sight of her naked, handcuffed husband, relieved that his enormous overhanging gut afforded him at least a modicum of decency. ‘Right, thank-you very much Chandra’ said Glenda briskly, ‘I can take it from here. Oh, don’t forget this’ and Glenda handed over a pile of used £50 notes. ‘Thanks Glen!’ said Chandra brightly, pulling on her dress and blowing Roger a kiss as she left the room, ‘See you Rog!

Roger began to jibber, ‘I didn’t arrange this Glenda, of course I didn’t! I promised you...’ Glenda held a finger to her lips, ‘Shhh darling, I know you didn’t arrange it. I arranged it. You see, I wanted you to be really, really listening.’ She reached behind a chair and picked up Roger’s favourite 9 iron. His eyes widened ‘My club! What are you going to do with that?’

Glenda patted the head of the club onto her palm, ‘Don’t worry Roger. Much as I’d like to mash your tiny little brain into a pulp of grey matter, I don’t want to be guilty of murder. No, in a short while your DB9 is going to feel the weight of this, I reckon one good crack should shatter the windscreen, what do you think?’ Roger jumped as though he’d been stung, ‘Glenda, no! Not the DB9!’

She giggled. ‘And then, Roger, I’ve got a tin of paint stripper for your E-type! Roger groaned, struggling to free his arms. ‘I’ve already cut up the Jermyn Street suits’ she continued, ‘and finally, I think the people in the village would all like a few bottles of your fine wine on the doorstep with their milk tomorrow morning, don’t you? Harry the milkman thought it was a fabulous idea; he came and took it all yesterday. He told me to thank you and complimented you on your philanthropic nature!’ Glenda pealed with laughter, she’d waited a long time for this moment.

You do know why I’m doing this, don’t you?’ she asked, suddenly serious. ‘It’s because I’ve finally had enough. When I’m finished with the cars, I’m leaving. I’ve appointed a solicitor and I will take you to the cleaners my darling. 'Unreasonable behaviour' doesn’t even begin to cover it!’ Glenda grinned as she left the room, she was enjoying this unaccustomed feeling of power.

She went back to the dining room where the Hetheringtons were sitting in silence. They gaped at the sight of Glenda holding a golf club. ‘I’m terribly sorry about that’ she said with an apologetic smile. ‘You’ve finished your soup I see, marvellous. Would you mind awfully coming to the Drawing Room for dessert? We think it’s such fun to have a different course in different rooms, it really livens up the evening, I’m sure you’ll find it very entertaining!’ She brandished the 9 iron impatiently, ‘Come on! Hurry up!’

Roger’s cries were clearly audible as Gus, Cristal and Glenda reached the Drawing Room. At the door Glenda paused, ‘You go on in, there’s just something I have to attend to first. I’ll eat my dessert later.’ She beamed at them, ‘Anyway, I do think there are some dishes that are best served cold, don’t you?’

And with that Glenda strode in the direction of the garages, swinging the 9 iron, her spirits soaring and a whole new chapter of her life about to begin.

Glenda’s Black Bean Soup (serves 4)

Well. I am almost speechless. I had no idea Glenda had it in her and you should see the mess she made of Roger’s beloved cars. Astonishing behaviour. I wonder what on earth she’ll do next?

When this soup is served in New Orleans, I’m told (by the delightful Erin) that you can dollop on sour cream and cheese to up the fat content and general deliciousness factor. If you can eat dairy, then you go right ahead and do so. Erin also told me that you can add a chunk of ham or bacon if you wish and cook it ‘The real N'Orlins Way.’ I’m sure Roger would approve.

2 medium red onions

5 cloves of garlic

Olive oil for frying

1 red pepper

1-2 tbsps of herbes de provence / mixed herbs

4 x 400g tins of black beans in their brine (or if using dried beans, approximately 400g of dried beans, before soaking, reserve the cooking water)

The liquid measurements are very fluid (¡ha!), be prepared to add more.  But approximately:

150ml vegetable stock (check stock cubes are gluten free)

100 ml of orange juice

100ml red wine

Salt and black pepper to taste

Lashings of Tabasco sauce

200g (ish) Basmati rice to serve


4-6 spring onions, finely chopped

4-6 vine tomatoes finely chopped

Optional Toppings:

Sour cream, grated cheddar cheese or grated ‘Sheese’ if you prefer

If you are using dried black beans, soak them overnight prior to making the soup and then cook them according to the packet instructions. Reserve the cooking water.

  • Finely chop the onions and garlic and place in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the olive oil and fry gently over a medium heat for a minute or so

  • Chop the red pepper and add to the pan. Add the mixed herbs and stir. Fry for another couple of minutes
  • Add the black beans and the brine from the tins. If you are using dried beans, add the beans and half the cooking water (you can always add more later)
  • Add the vegetable stock, orange juice and wine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and settle yourself down for the long, simmering haul. This is the sort of soup that needs to boil down, be topped up a little with flavourings, then boil down again. Fab

  • Stir the soup from time to time (perhaps in between smashing up your husband’s car?) adding more stock, orange juice and wine where necessary. You want to retain quite a lot of liquid, so don’t let the beans go dry

  • Finely chop the spring onions and tomatoes and cook the rice according to the packet instructions

  • Add salt, black pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste

  • Call your guests to the table and load up their plates with this rice and black bean feast

  • And raise a toast to Glenda. To her courage, her determination and her uncertain future

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